Well, well, well. Here were just 4 days from the Carmel Marathon and I have yet to share a single update on my training. So much has happened in the past few months – and one of the first little outlets to drop off was this little corner of the internet.
First, I started a new job in January. After a bittersweet transition to the new gig in late December (made slightly more stressful by the holidays), I’m happy where I’ve landed. One of the biggest changes to my routine, though, has been working in an office again after working remotely for over 4 years. [#BarkleeAnn pretends to be upset that she has the apartment to herself throughout the week, but I know she’s just messing with me. I really do miss talking to her like I would a coworker, though.] In my previous job, I took full advantage of having a flexible work schedule and would often squeeze in an easy run in between conference calls or get a workout done during lunch. Now, I have to slot my workouts in before or after work like a normal human being. I’ve never been good about running in the morning, especially during the winter, so I spent a lot of after-work hours in the gym on the treadmill this cycle. I’m getting the hang of it. I even did a fair number of run-commutes home from the office just to save time and get miles in on the lakefront.
The second big change is that I hired a local coach! I feel like I can be hot and cold when it comes to enlisting someone else to direct my training. I think that both approaches have worked for me, as I’ve PR’d with a coach and my current marathon PR is from a training plan I created. I’ve been really happy working with Dan W this year. Aside from the physical work I needed to do to get back in shape after my stress fracture last fall, I had a LOT of mental work to do (more than I realized, actually). It was really easy for me to wimp out during workouts in the first few weeks. Everything felt hard. I was grinding and needed to do consistent work to get my stride back. Even short intervals at my ‘old tempo pace’ and mile repeats at my old marathon pace seemed ridiculously hard. But I slowly started to feel like myself again. The variety of workouts I’ve done this cycle has been refreshing. It kept me on my toes. It’s nice to work with someone with a long-term approach — and especially with someone that experienced several stress fractures as a young athlete. He quickly reminded me that patience was key and that if Carmel is to be a success, it’s because we were smart and didn’t rush the training progress.
After 11 weeks on a return to running program that started with very very easy run-walk segments and finished with 4 runs and 24 mpw, I started my Carmel cycle in the last week of December. (New job and new cycle started within days of each other!) 16 weeks of training + this week’s full taper looked like this:
My 10 mile long run felt sooooooooo lonnnnnng in January. Despite my best efforts to maintain endurance while injured, you can’t deny the running fitness that you can lose when you’re out. On the flip side, I am *thrilled* with the number of long runs that I was able to do once the pieces started to come together: 15, 17, 13, 18, 19, 20, 13, 19, 20.
I don’t know if any other Chitown runners feel this way, but for a very mild winter, I still dealt with crazy weather the past few months. It felt like every time I had a scary workout or long run, the weather made a turn for the worst with tons of wind and rain. And then, cruelly, the next day would be gorgeous and calm. I’m proud of myself for fighting the elements and doing what I can with what I’m given this cycle.
Luckily, all that training in the wind and rain should make the current forecast for Carmel feel easy breezey. It’s a little warmer than I’d like but I’ll take it. (I’m super excited about the fact that it’s going to be a beautiful afternoon to celebrate on a patio with a few beers :))
So, what does this all mean? And what are my goals for Carmel? Well, I’m not tied to a time goal, but I do have a number that sounds good in my head. I think this marathon, lucky #7 (!!!!) will be more about a feeling. I want to feel strong and consistent — mentally AND physically. In the past 5-6 weeks, steady states and tempo efforts have felt surprisingly good. After grinding and grinding and grinding, the hard work started to pay off in March. I think there’s a chance that some kind of magic could lead to a kickass time on Saturday, but I’ll be happy crossing that finish line knowing that I fought hard to get back to my ‘old self’. From run-walking in October and November, to 10 mi ‘long runs’ in January, to now — I think 26.2 will be an adventure.
The first time Coach Dan and I met, he told me that we’d work together to “sneak up on getting fit again”. And that’s what we’ve done. I feel like I did put my head down and just got the work done this winter. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to see sub 3:11 on the clock this weekend, but this cycle was never about running the fastest time on April 16, 2016. This cycle was about setting up some dominoes for a strong summer and fast fall. An exclamation point on running a healthy cycle.
For those of you interested in tracking my race this Saturday, you can sign up for text or email updates here!